If you’re an art lover visiting Aix-en-Provence, you won’t want to miss the chance to walk in the footsteps of one of the city’s most famous sons: Paul Cézanne. Born in Aix in 1839, this pioneering Post-Impressionist painter left an indelible mark on the art world and on his hometown.

While Cézanne spent some time studying in Paris, he always returned to his beloved Provence. The landscapes and light of the region were a constant source of inspiration for him, and he captured them in countless paintings that would go on to influence generations of artists, from Matisse to Picasso.

Take the Cézanne Walking Tour

One of the best ways to get a sense of Cézanne’s life and work is to take the self-guided “In the Steps of Cézanne” walking tour through Aix. This tour leads you through the historic heart of the city, stopping at 32 key sites related to the artist.

You’ll see everything from Cézanne’s birthplace to his final resting place, with plenty of fascinating stops in between. To help you navigate the route, the Aix-en-Provence Tourist Office offers a handy map. You can pick up a copy at the office itself or download it from their website.

Key Stops on the Tour

While all 32 sites on the tour are worth seeing, here are a few highlights to look out for:

Bronze Statue of Paul Cézanne

Near the Tourist Office, you’ll find a striking bronze statue of Cézanne created by Dutch sculptor Gabriel Sterk. The statue was donated to the city in 2006.

Société des Amis des Arts

Located at 2 bis, avenue Victor Hugo, this “Company of Friends of the Arts” was founded in 1894. Cézanne regularly exhibited his works here.

Collège Mignet

Cézanne studied at this school (41 rue Cardinale) from 1852-1858. It’s still in use as a secondary school today. Notably, it’s where Cézanne met and befriended writer Émile Zola.

Family Residences

The tour includes several of Cézanne’s family homes, including:

  • The residence of his sister Marie (8, rue Frédéric Mistral)
  • The home of his wife Hortense and son Paul (9, rue Frédéric Mistral)
  • The last residence of his mother (30, cours Mirabeau)
  • Cézanne’s own final apartment (23, rue Boulegon), where he died in 1906

École de Dessin/Musée Granet

Now known as the Musée Granet, this former art school at Place Saint-Jean-de Malte is where Cézanne took drawing lessons from 1857 to 1862. Today, the museum houses a small collection of his works.

Church of Saint John of Malta

Also located at Place Saint-Jean-de Malte, this 13th-century church in the Mazarin Quarter is where the funeral of Cézanne’s mother, Anne, was held in 1897.

Cézanne’s Birthplace

The house at 28, rue de l’Opéra is where Paul Cézanne was born on January 19, 1839.

Café des Deux Garçons

This iconic cafe at 53 bis, cours Mirabeau has been a local institution since the 18th century. It was a favorite meeting spot for Cézanne and his circle of friends and acquaintances.

Follow the Brass Markers

As you make your way through the streets of Aix, keep an eye out for the brass route markers embedded in the pavement. These square plaques, stamped with the letter “C,” will help you stay on the right path as you trace Cézanne’s life and career.

Beyond the Walking Tour

The “In the Steps of Cézanne” tour is just the beginning of your artistic exploration of Aix. Here are a few more Cézanne-related experiences to consider:

“Cézanne au pays d’Aix” Film

The Caumont Art Centre presents this film, which delves deeper into Cézanne’s life and his connection to the Aix region.

L’Atelier des Lauves

Visit Cézanne’s former studio, located just outside the city center, to see where the master worked in his later years.

Musée Granet

While you’ll pass by the Granet Museum on the walking tour, it’s worth going inside to see the small but significant collection of Cézanne’s drawings and paintings. Seeing these works in the same building where Cézanne once studied art adds an extra layer of meaning.

Cézanne Around the World

Of course, you don’t have to be in Aix to appreciate Cézanne’s genius. His works are held in major museums and private collections around the globe. Here are just a few notable examples:

  • Les joueurs de cartes (The Card Players) – Musée d’Orsay, Paris
  • Pierrot et Arlequin (Pierrot and Harlequin/Mardi Gras) – Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art, Moscow
  • L’Homme à la blouse bleue (Man in a Blue Smock) – Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
  • La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (The Montagne Sainte-Victoire) – The Courtauld Gallery, London

But there’s something special about seeing Cézanne’s works in the city that shaped him and that he, in turn, immortalized on canvas. By following in his footsteps through Aix, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation not just for his art, but for the man himself and the place he called home.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Wear comfortable shoes – The walking tour covers a fair amount of ground, so make sure you have shoes that can handle cobblestones and uneven pavement.
  • Allow plenty of time – While you could rush through the tour in a couple of hours, to really appreciate each stop, budget at least half a day.
  • Bring water and sun protection – Aix can get quite hot, especially in the summer months. Stay hydrated and don’t forget your sunscreen and hat.
  • Check museum hours – If you plan to visit the Granet Museum or other indoor sites, make note of their opening hours so you don’t miss out.
  • Combine with other activities – Aix is a lively university town with plenty to see and do beyond the Cézanne trail. Consider combining your art pilgrimage with a visit to the colorful markets, a leisurely lunch at a sidewalk cafe, or a stroll through the elegant Mazarin Quarter.

An Artistic Pilgrimage

Walking in the footsteps of Paul Cézanne is more than just a sightseeing tour – it’s a pilgrimage for anyone who loves art and wants to understand one of its great masters on a deeper level.

By exploring the places that shaped Cézanne and that he captured so vividly in his work, you’ll come away with a richer appreciation for his legacy and his enduring influence on the art world.

But even if you’re not an art aficionado, following the Cézanne trail is a wonderful way to experience the beauty, history, and charm of Aix-en-Provence. The self-guided nature of the tour means you can go at your own pace, linger at the spots that interest you most, and make your own discoveries along the way.

So grab a map, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to see Aix through the eyes of its most famous artist. In the footsteps of Cézanne, you’ll find not just a fascinating history lesson, but a newfound appreciation for the power of place to inspire great art.

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